Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all a very Merry Christmas and may 2011 be everything anyone could ask for!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Perfect Christmas Gift

Are you still looking for a Christmas gift for a loved one...or maybe someone who is not-so-loved but still expecting a gift? Consider supporting our project to help out young women and youth in Tanzania through a donation to Plan Canada for our Education for Africa project. Click on the link to the right to learn more about the project and to help out.
You will receive a charitable donation receipt prior to the end of tax season.
Thank you so much for your consideration!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Trip to Tanzania is Shaping up

Well, we have our vaccinations, we have applied for the Visas, we have a short safari booked, flights are booked, hotels are booked. What are we missing? There is still time to think about it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book is Done - Almost

My book "Kilimanjaro and Beyond - A Life-Changing Journey", written with input from my son Chris, is now complete...except for the Epilogue. The editing has been finalized by my editor, Kip Kirby, who did an incredible job, especially in the last two weeks after learning that her husband has some serious health issues. Thank you so much Kip.

I am very proud of the finished product and have sent it to a number of people who will hopefully like what they read. In January we are off to Africa and the story will be complete, although our work will continue. I will write the Epilogue in February and we will go from there. It has been a great experience reliving my amazing journey and I hope others will enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New project website available!

A few days ago I announced a new project that we are undertaking with Plan Canada. The website is now available for viewing and for accepting donations from anyone interested. This project will empower youth and women in Tanzania by giving them training and vocational skills so that they can establish businesses to support their families. It is a great project and the Canadian federal government will match donations 3:1!!! Please consider a donation as a Christmas gift for friends and family. Click "DONATE" under Education for Africa on the right to make a secure donation.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Book is edited

All 27 chapters plus the Introduction have been edited. Now it is a matter of going through it one more time before sending it to the reviewers. This is getting exciting!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Very Satisfying News!

I just got word from Tanzania through Plan Canada that the primary school for which we raised funds is nearing completion. In fact, it is expected that the completed classrooms will be handed over to the school for use by the students this week! We raised about 25% of the amount required for the new classrooms and with the help of a partner, the project has been completed.

This will go a long way to alleviating the overcrowding situation at the school and will mean that the students will not have to be educated in shifts so they will receive a better education. From our observation when we are there, the children will be very excited to have this opportunity. We will see for ourselves when we visit in February.

I am very satisfied that this part of our project is complete knowing that some kids on the other side of the world will be given a chance to fulfill their dreams. You can read more about the project by clicking on the "Classrooms at the primary school in the Mwanza region" link on the right.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Self Publishing

I have been reading "The Fine Print of Self Publishing" by Mark Levine. In his book, he assesses 45 self publishing companies and some of the results came as a surprise to me. In fact, two that I was considering finished in the "OK" and "Avoid" category respectively.

He assesses the companies based on nine qualities of a good self publishing company and it is an eye-opener. One of the things I am looking for, because I am in Canada and don't want to pay outrageous shipping and customs duty costs, is the company's policy with respect to returning the original production files. If I can print my copies for personal use or resale in Canada, it will save me a lot of money. Some companies actually ask you to pay for the return of your own original production files!

If you are considering self publishing, I would definitely recommend this book. I have no vested interest in recommending it, other than I think it will help me make a decision. Like everything else, you have to apply your own criteria and common sense but the book is certainly helping me with that process.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Project for Tanzania

Now that the work on raising money for the borehole and classrooms is complete, I am very pleased to announce a new project to help out the people in Tanzania. Once again we will be working in conjunction with our friends at Plan Canada. The project is designed to address economic security in Tanzania by working with women and youth (ages 15-24) to acquire the vocational skills they need to secure livelihood opportunities so they can support their families. Savings and loan programs will be established and training provided so that income and assets can be built up. The program is expected to directly affect 11,000 women and youth in four areas of Tanzania. The Canadian federal government has agreed to match gifts 3:1.
A link to our new donation page will appear on my blog in the next few days.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Title

I am still searching for the perfect title. This one hit me during the night: "A Mountain, a School and Some Clean Water" What do you think? Would you be intrigued enough to buy a book with this title?

Chapters 1 through 10 have now been edited. Working on the chapter 10 revisions this morning.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Six Chapters Down...

I just completed the revisions on Chapter six and started the process to look for book reviewers and think about a cover design. I had some success in the book reviewer department and I have some ideas for the design. Onwards and upwards!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

It has been a fabulous weekend with friends and family (from Manitoba). Son Trevor and his "Hot Damn Band" were in town from Nashville and performed twice. Everyone is leaving soon and things will be back to normal. All in all, it has been a great few days.

Friday, October 8, 2010

And Another Thing About Editing

One other thing I have noticed during my years of writing is that even though something you have written is painfully obvious to you, if someone else questions the section, it needs reworking. If one person can't understand what you are saying, there is a good chance others won't either.
Just sayin'

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Going Through the Editing Process

My editor just sent me her edits for Chapter 6 of my book, "Climbing Kilimanjaro and Making a Difference". I am finding out that this whole editing thing is lot of work but I am convinced that the end result will be worth the effort.

I recently tried to read a book written by a friend. It had been self published and I was quite excited to read it. Unfortunately, I couldn't. It was full of spelling mistakes, large spaces in the middle of sentences and grammatical errors. It was such a shame that he gone to that much work and yet chosen the $200 self publishing package, which apparently didn't include editing.

I consider myself to be a good writer. I have a good grasp of the English language and my understanding of grammar is decent. I honed my skills writing policy for the federal government for ten years. I know what you are saying. Nobody reads that stuff anyway!! Well, my boss did and every time I sent a policy into his office for comment, it would come back with edits all over it.

I have to admit I was offended at first. But then I tried to sit back and look at it objectively. I came to an astonishing conclusion! It was actually a better product after I incorporated his edits. He was seeing things that I was oblivious to because I had been getting too close to it. I actually learned to appreciate his input.

When I first met with my editor, I had two issues that I wanted addressed. I wanted to know if my book was something that only my grandchildren would love and if it somehow had wider appeal, I wanted an editor who would be brutally honest. It passed my first criteria and I braced myself for the second. I thought I had become immune to that kind of honesty throughout my working career.

The edit of the Introduction came back with the normal grammatical changes plus a comment that part if it was too "preachy". Okay, I had asked for it. And you know what? She was absolutely correct and with a little work I was able to remove the preachings. Hmmm...I wonder where that desire to preach came from. Policy writing perhaps?

Since that time we have moved some paragraphs, eliminated some redundancy, elaborated on or clarified some paragraphs and ensured that I am not straying too much from the subject at any time. Oh yes, and some grammar has been fixed. And I am deeply appreciative. I am not sure what other editors do but I firmly believe that a good editor should go way beyond fixing grammar.

For anyone who has not ventured down the editing path, I strongly suggest that you find an editor who is willing to do that for you. And don't take the criticism personally. As long as the information you want to convey is still included, it is just possible it can be said better. It will definitely be a better product after it has been reviewed in depth by a second pair of eyes. It is worth the investment to ensure your masterpiece is the best it can possibly be.

I hope I am not being too preachy!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Searching for a Title

My book is tentatively called "Climbing Kilimanjaro and Making a Difference". I think it summarizes what we have accomplished but is it the right title? Will it attract attention? Will it encourage people to purchase it? Is it too long? Will it pop up on the inevitable searches on Google, etc.? Lots of questions for which there are probably no answers. If anyone has any suggestions on book titles, I am listening.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Flights Booked for Tanzania

I am very excited to report that the details of our trip to Tanzania have been finalized. We will visit the schools in the Mwanza region, see the borehole and watch our Canadian flag being raised at the new classroom, visit with a family that is benefitting from the well and do a short safari. We will also spend a bit of time in Dar es Salaam and Arusha. The highlights of the trip will be published as an Epilogue in my book.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reasons for writing "Climbing Kilimanjaro and Making a Difference"

I have been asked why I would want to go through the exercise of writing a book, having it edited, finding publishers, doing the marketing and all the other things that go along with trying to at least break even in the process. It is not as if writing a book was something on my "bucket list" although everyone thinks about it from time to time.

The decision came to me after I had done a few presentations about our climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. I realized that the climb is not something that everyone, and especially people my age, are prepared to do. It was brought home even more when I realized the interest that people had in helping others as we had done by using the climb as a platform to raise money to bring clean water and classrooms to Tanzania. There was a need to make people understand that my son and I are two ordinary people who were able to accomplish something extraordinary through perseverance and hard work.

I hope that people will enjoy following us on our adventure as much as we enjoyed doing it. My goals in writing the book with Chris' input were the following:
  • To encourage people of all ages to set goals for themselves and to strive to attain them, no matter how lofty they may be. It is never too late to try to reach a goal. A healthy lifestyle is key;
  • To take people who may never climb a mountain on our adventure up and down Mount Kilimanjaro, enlighten those who are thinking of making the trek and bring back fond memories for those who have done it; and
  • To help people realize the immense power of one or two people in making a difference in the lives of so many who desperately need the help.

If one or more of these goals is met for each reader, the long hours put into the book writing exercise will have been more than worth it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Great site for budding authors (and for the more experienced)

Thanks to Twitter, a great site has been brought to my attention for those who are new to writing or for the writers among you who have more experience. I suggest you check it out for hints on getting that book out there.

Major donation for classrooms

Thanks to Debbie Harbridge for her significant donation to the classroom project in Mwanza, Tanzania!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Update #2

Three chapters have been edited. I will post a brief synopsis when it is a little further along in the editing phase.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pencils and toys

I have just written to two companies that manufacture wooden pencils and toys. We would like to have some donated so we can take them with us for the kids in Tanzania. Any other ideas?

Tanzania Trip

Plan Tanzania just confirmed that our visit to the schools is scheduled for February 3. We will see where the well has been dug and meet with a family that will benefit directly from it. We will also see the school administrators raise the Canadian flag that we carried to Kili's peak. Oh, and we are going to do a short safari. Can't wait!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

CEO of Plan Canada at Our Golf Tournament

We were honoured to have the CEO of Plan Canada, Rosemary McCarney, join us at our golf tournament. Here she is presenting at the dinner following the tournament. Thanks Rosemary!!!

Book Update #1

I will be posting some updates as our book, tentatively called "Climbing Kilimanjaro and Making a Difference" is edited and nears publication. The editing process has started. Lots of work ahead but it is going to be fun! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another Great Event!

We had a great turnout and reasonable weather for the 2nd annual Kilimanjaro Golf Fore Kids Tournament. A little over $4000 will be going to Plan Canada for building classrooms in Mwanza, Tanzania. Thanks to Debbie for organizing the tournament and to all volunteers and participants for being there. Photos will be coming soon.

Monday, August 16, 2010

$10,000 towards a new Ford

No, that is not a typo. Ford has donated $10,000 towards a new car if you get a hole-in-one at the 2nd annual Kilimanjaro Golf Fore Kids tournament this Saturday at Lombard Glen in Smiths Falls. They have also donated a set of ladies and men's Callaway golf clubs for a different hole. No-one will get a hole-in-one you say!!?? Well, I saw it a couple of years ago in a tournament. It does happen. Come out and give it a try.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book in the works

I have been working on a book, with input from Chris, about our adventure climbing Kilimanjaro and helping the kids in Mwanza. The working tftle is "Climbing Kilimanjaro and Making a Difference". I am discovering it is a lot of work but the manuscript has been sent for editing. I will keep you posted on progress.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Golf Tournament Registration

It is time to register for the 2nd annual Kilimanjaro Golf Fore Kids Tournament to be held at Lombard Glen Golf and Country Club on August 21. This one promises to be full of fun and surprises and hopefully no rain (although the last part is not guaranteed). You can sign up on the website at Just click on 'Contacts". As usual, all proceeds go to building the school in Mwanza. We hope to see you there.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Golf Tournament

Stay tuned for some exciting news about the golf tournament to be announced very soon. The registration fee remains the same as last year and it will be an even better tournament full of surprises. All proceeds to Plan Canada for building a school in Mwanza.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Final Totals Are In

I am very happy to report that approximately $8,000 was raised through ticket sales, donations, sale of silent auction items and the 50/50 draw at the Clean Water for Africa Cocktail Party May 18. That is actually about $1,000 more than required so the extra amount raised will go towards the education project. I am also very proud to say that this completes the Clean Water project as the well will be functional by August 31. Everyone who contributed to this project should have a feeling of pride too. You have all been part of this.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Success Story!

While the final numbers are not in yet, I am very pleased to announce that we successfully completed the fundraising for the well in Tanzania at our cocktail party last night. Any excess funds will be directed to the education project. Thank you to everyone who particpated through financial donations, attending the cocktail party, buying auction items and 50/50 tickets, working at the event and to those who have provided much needed morale support. It has been absolutely amazing! Special thanks to Randy Fitzpatrick and the staff at Petit Bill's, our excellent MC, Paul Brent, Dianne Cardin who gathered so many auction items and to Shannon Singh and others at Plan Canada who have been incredible throughout.
It is tremendously satisfying to know that a community will have so many more opportunities as a result of the access to clean water that we have collectively provided.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Less Than a Week to Go!

There is less than a week to buy your tickets for the cocktail party at Petit Bill's Bistro. It is sure to be a great time and we want to sell all 60 silent auction items. Press on the button above and get your tickets. Come and join us!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Team Canada Sweater

The law firm of Kelly Santini LLP has donated a Team Canada sweater with the name of the gold medal game winning goal scorer, Sidney Crosby, on the back! It will be available at the silent auction May 18 at Petiti Bill's Bistro.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Paul Brent to emcee our event

I am very happy to announce that CTV Ottawa's host and producer of Tech Now will emcee the Clean Water for Africa Cocktail Party on May 18. Paul is CTV's technology specialist. He has reported from insid e the Space Shuttle, from a Japanese car plant, from inside a Canadian salt mine and the country's top tech labs and from the streets of Silicon Valley in California. In 2008, Ottawa Life Magazine named Paul one of Ottawa's 50 most influential people.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

830 Children and 50 Households will benefit immediately from our project!

We just got word that the well project will start on May 1 at the Kayenze Preschool using the money that we have raised to date. If we can raise the remaining $7,000 at our cocktail party and through donations, the well will be completed by August 31. We need your help! Come out to the party, have fun and buy silent auction items or, if you can't do that, please consider donating!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Burden of Thirst

This video offers a compelling reminder of why we need to finish the well at the preschool in Mwanza, Tanzania!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

List of silent auction items

A complete list of items is at the bottom of this page. We are just waiting for a few more details before we add more items. Bids can be made in advance by contacting me. Advance bids will become the opening bids at the event so bid high. Successful out-of-town bidders will be required to pay shipping costs and payment by certified cheque or money order will also be required.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mark your calendars

It is time to mark your calendars for the May 18 cocktail party at Petit Bill's Bistro. Tickets are only $30! You will get full value for your ticket. A glass of wine and canapes will be waiting for you at the door. There will be close to 50 silent auction prizes to choose from. You could win a door prize or the 50/50 draw. You will see some African entertainment. And the best news? You will be contributing to providing clean water to some preschool kids and their parents in Mwanza, Tanzania.
Come and join us. Click on the button above to buy your tickets!

Friday, February 5, 2010

New silent auction item

Here is a 40-minute airplane ride over Ottawa to add to the list. You will leave from the Rockcliffe Flying Club in the owner's Piper Cherokee. Richard Peacocke has generously donated his plane for a ride for two passengers. Richard is an experienced pilot with over 900 hours of flying time. The date of the flight will be mutually agreed.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hot Air Balloon Ride Anyone?

Money Concepts, Kanata, Investia Financial Services and Sundance Balloons have combined to contribute two one-hour hot air balloon rides with a traditional champagne toast and a personalized certificate signed by the pilot. The balloon rides will be auctioned off at the silent auction at Petit Bill's Bistro on May 18. Proceeds go to Plan Canada for providing access to clean water for a preschool and surrounding community in Tanzania.

Jewellry for cocktail party

La Maison d'Or has contributed two sets of earrings for the cocktail party silent auction. The first set is 14 ct white gold and the second is 10 ct yellow gold. Both are exquisite and must be seen to be appreciated.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More great items for the cocktail party and silent auction

This keeps getting better and better! We just got two hot air balloon rides courtesy of Money Concepts, Kanata and Sundance Balloons, as well as Ottawa Bluesfest tickets. I will publish a complete list soon along with a site where tickets can be purchased online.